Three big U.S. manufacturers reported results that topped Wall Street's expectations, citing recovering demand in everything from corporate jets to equipment to run factories more efficiently.
United Technologies Corp
We're particularly encouraged by the pick-up in business jet and commercial helicopter demand ... reflecting relative stability in global economies and improving general business confidence, said Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Textron, which is emerging from a sharp two-year slump in demand for corporate jets.
Textron, which also makes Bell helicopters and EZ-Go golf carts, said it expects profit to more than triple this year as revenue increases by about 11 percent. Its 2011 profit forecast, however, came in shy of analysts' expectations.
Rockwell Automation, which sells equipment to factory owners, said it saw strong demand growth from emerging markets, and sharply raised its profit forecast for fiscal 2011.
Our strong revenue performance in the first (fiscal) quarter along with positive macroeconomic trends and forecasts, indicates that the global industrial recovery is continuing, said Keith Nosbusch, CEO of Rockwell Automation.
United Tech, the world's largest maker of elevators and air conditioners, said demand for supplies to maintain jet engines and air conditioning equipment boosted results in the quarter.
The blue-chip, Hartford, Connecticut-based company said on Wednesday fourth-quarter profit attributable to common shareholders came to $1.2 billion, or $1.31 per diluted share, compared with prior-year earnings of $1.07 billion, or $1.15 per diluted share.
Sales rose to $14.9 billion, up 6 percent. Both profit and sales topped analysts' forecasts.
Textron reported fourth-quarter profit of 33 cents per share, excluding one-time items, topping the 25 cents analysts had forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The Providence, Rhode Island-based company forecast a 2011 profit of $1 to $1.15 per share from continuing operations, compared with the 30 cents it reported for 2010. CEO Donnelly had previously forecast a return to profit growth in 2011, but did not say by how much.
Analysts had forecast 2011 profit of $1.26 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. [ID:nN26116925]
Rockwell said fiscal first-quarter profit was $150.1 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $76.6 million, or 53 cents per share.
Analysts, on average, looked for a profit of 88 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Rockwell said it now looks for fiscal 2011 profit of $4.30 to $4.60 per share, up from its prior target of $3.80 to $4.20 per share set in November.
(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Matthew Lewis)